Climate change is one of the most urgent issues facing the world today. Across the globe, people are already feeling the effects of a rapidly warming climate and more extreme weather patterns, while a scarcity of natural resources is expected to intensify in the coming decades. A proactive and coordinated response to these issues by both the public and the private sector is essential to securing a sustainable future.
40% increase in carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere has occurred since pre-industrial times.
10 warmest years on record have occurred since 2000.
Greenhouse gas emissions grew more quickly between 2000-2010 than in any of the previous three decades.
Reducing carbon emissions is one way businesses like PwC are taking responsibility for their climate impacts. Due to the nature of our core business, our carbon reduction efforts focus on reducing business travel, commuting, and office building energy use. In FY14, we surpassed our goal of a 30% reduction in carbon emissions from our FY07 baseline (in carbon dioxide equivalents) ahead of schedule. In FY15, we cut emissions by 9,133 tCO2e, bringing our reduction since FY07 to 34%. In FY15, we pledged, as part of the White House American Business Act on Climate, to reduce our emissions by an additional 15% (a total of 45%) by FY20, even as we continue to increase our headcount and the operations needed to support our growing firm.
Taking LEED to the next level
Energy use within office buildings is a major source of carbon emissions, and one that is often difficult to affect. Because of this challenge, PwC is working to create systemic change by linking PwC’s long-term office leases with energy efficiencies through improved lighting technology and ENERGY STAR® equipment and appliances. By the end of 2016, we expect nearly two-thirds of PwC’s office space to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified. Moving forward, more of our PwC offices will either move into a LEED-certified office or renovate existing spaces with LEED-certified interiors upon lease renewal, which we expect will help to further reduce our total energy use across the organization in the coming years.
Being flexible about where we work
In addition to the travel that our partners and staff do as part of their engagements, they take time to travel to and from the office. During FY15, we conducted a survey of our partners and staff and found they commuted to PwC offices, on average, 2.6 days a week, compared to 2.9 in 2013 and 4.5 in 2009. Not only are we commuting less, we've also shifted away from driving and are taking public transportation, biking, or walking more frequently. As a firm, we continue to support flexibility and deploy technologies that aid in reducing travel for our people.
Working with The Nature Conservancy
This year, we began working with The Nature Conservancy and invested $100,000 to offset our carbon through forest conservation projects in Virginia and Belize, which is the site of some of our Earn Your Future® work. With The Nature Conservancy, we found a conservation leader that could accurately measure and quantify the environmental impact of its forestry work in areas needing wide-scale protection and preservation.
Stepping up to the challenge
Our Green Teams provide another vehicle for our partners and staff to volunteer and contribute to the communities around them. PwC’s annual Green Challenge encouraged our staff to come up with ideas that could be scaled across the organization. One of the winning teams from New York designed a sustainable agriculture and healthy eating curriculum for schools, inspired by their volunteer experience with a local non-profit, Harlem Grown.